Suffolk: First candidates in frame for top police role

THE first candidates in the running for the high-profile post of Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner can be revealed by the EADT today.

Jane Basham, former chief executive of Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality, and ex-Chief Superintendent Tim Beach, who served with the force for 30 years before retiring in 2009, will vie for the Labour candidacy this summer.

The Conservatives are expected to announce their candidates within weeks, while independent hopefuls are also expected to stand.

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election takes place on November 15, with the winner taking up office a week later – replacing the current police authority structure.

Last night, the first candidates spoke of their hopes for the role – which carries the power to set priorities for the force, hold it to account, and to hire and fire the chief constable.

While the Labour Party on both a national and local level has expressed concern about the move to use PCCs to replace police authorities and the potential “politicising” of the police, the local leadership has backed plans to put forward a candidate.

There will be a hustings event at the end of May to select the Labour candidate, and then a postal ballot for all party members in the county in June.

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PCC elections are being held in all police force areas in England and Wales, except in London, where the mayor of London has taken on the same powers.

A Home Office spokeswoman said the new commissioners would give the public “a stronger voice in the fight against crime while protecting the operational independence of chief constables”.

However, last week Tony Melville, Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Police, resigned in opposition to the election of PCCs.

Matt Gould, chairman of the Suffolk Police Federation, which represents the county’s officers, said he and colleagues were “opposed to the concept” of PCCs.

He said: “We would prefer one that is as independent as possible.”